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Old 28-03-2017, 12:56   #1
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Wood Boat Questions

Hi all, I have a question regarding wood boats: Some say there's no more maintenance than a glass or steel boat, while others say avoid like the plague if one doesn't want to spend all their time maintaining it.

For my plans, I have a 2-4 year timeline before the wife and I set off on our world voyage. I have lots of time to do necessary maintenance on it in the mean time, but up until the last couple of weeks, I haven't even thought of purchasing a wood boat. I have some wood working experience and plenty comfortable learning what I don't know and performing most work on my own (I think).

Any thoughts? I'm looking at a 62' Cheoy Lee Lion Class
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Old 28-03-2017, 15:17   #2
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Re: Wood Boat Questions

I have had both. I would never buy a wooden boat for any extended ocean adventure.

Both in same condition, grp vs. wood, I think the wooden boat requires x times more maintenance time than her plastick sister. I am open to suggestions on what number bigger than 1 x is.

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Old 28-03-2017, 15:44   #3
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Re: Wood Boat Questions

I am a former shipwright and have worked on and owned wood and other boats from the 60s. I also commercial fished a 55' wood boat in all weathers. Properly done maintenance and painting, wood boats in light use are close to the same maintenance as other painted boats. But, proper paint and maintenance rarely gets done by the average boat owner or yard. Usually by the time you find a wood boat you can afford, the problems are more than skin deep and not easily patched.
I live on a heavily built wood boat, 70 years old. The hull is solid and doesn't leak because of a copper bottom. Even if the planks work in heavy seas, it doesn't leak. It's life was spent in salt water and I could find no rot below the waterline. However, there was much more rot above the waterline than I expected, even with my experience. Water allowed to leak over time causes great amounts of damage. I had to replace all the decks and cabin tops. I even found termites!!!
Unless you're really skilled, don't buy a wood boat in anything less than excellent condition. Have it surveyed by a wood skilled surveyor. And then in the heavy weather you'll find ocean cruising, caulking will work out, fasteners will work loose and in worse cases, planks may spring loose. Hopefully above the waterline.
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Old 29-03-2017, 22:41   #4
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Re: Wood Boat Questions

Thanks for all your input. Yeah, I started looking into it more yesterday and today. Might not be the best option for what we're looking for. Will probably forgo the wood option for now.

Thanks again!
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Old 29-03-2017, 22:54   #5
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Re: Wood Boat Questions

Depends on how much they are going to give you to take it off their hands.
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Old 30-03-2017, 05:44   #6
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Re: Wood Boat Questions

There are many grp or stell or alloy boats that look identical to wooden classics.

So you can still get alike visuals sailing a boat that requires less maintenance.

There is a CF thread on that titled 'do you have a grp classic' or something alike. Have a peek there, you may like.

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Old 30-03-2017, 08:16   #7
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Re: Wood Boat Questions

Wooden boats in cold waters will last longer than warm waters.
Having a woody in the tropics can be a nightmare, not recommended.
Life expectancy in Florida about thirty five years.
I have first hand experience on the above.
There will always be some enthusiastic fan boy who swears they are more or less the same as a FRP, not in warm waters.
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Old 29-04-2017, 06:26   #8
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Re: Wood Boat Questions

I agree with all the above; however, I'd like to make some counter points. If you assume that wooden boat is more maintenance, you can still choose a smaller, traditionally-built wooden boat vs a larger grp boat and have the same maintenance level. In my experience, small boats do more sailing and have more fun. They're also safer to handle short handed especially when gear starts breaking.

Build quality and condition vary the maintenance requirements of any wooden boat considerably. Wooden boats respond well to the kind of continuous care a cruising owner can offer, dependant on ability and inclination.

The line between grp and wood boats gets quite fuzzy with modern construction. Many grp boats are at least partially wood cored giving them much in common, maintenance-wise with modern wood construction methods such as cold-molded, strip-planked, or plywood boats. All of which often end up glass sheathed anyway. These boats often more similar maintenance to grp boats.

The joy of working in different materials seems to be underrated in these conversations much of the time. For me, working in wood is a joy, where as grinding glass and spreading epoxy in the full sun with all the necessary protective gear on is a misery. That's a question only you can answer for yourself.

Many wooden boats have crossed the world for decades and been maintained by their owners well. It takes care, knowledge, and a bit of love. Best done in a smaller boat than is popular today. Wanderer III is an excellent example, cruising almost non-stop since the 50's, but their have been substantial rebuilds along the way.

So, while the costs of a wooden boat are different, the rewards are different, too. All may bear considering depending on what you want from your adventures.
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